The Importance of Networking in Managing your Career

“Networking” to some people sounds more complicated than it is and may even generate feelings of discomfort.  “Networking” isn’t meeting strangers with a common interest in a noisy bar and shouting at each other, “what do you do?”  Although I’m sure many of you have experienced such an event.

To understand the role that networking plays in career management, let’s start with the evolving definition of NETWORKING. 

Investopedia describes NETWORKING as: the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.

Dictionary.com describes NETWORKING as: a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.

Cambridge Dictionary describes NETWORKING as:  the process of meeting and talking to a lot of peopleesp. in order to get information that can help you

Historically, definitions of networking stressed the point was to meet people and determine how they could help you.  That self-centered approach has given way to the understanding that the purpose of networking is go create a mutually beneficial relationship.   In her book Helpful: A Guide to Life, Careers and the Art of Networking, Heather Hollick presents the purpose of networking is to be helpful – leveraging who you know and what you know to help other people be successful, and surround yourself with other people who do the same. 

My Networking Philosophy to networking is: connecting people and companies to companies and people for their mutual benefit.  It is nice to see that Business Dictionary has added: Networking is based on the question – “how can I help?” and not “what can I get?”

Why Network

In the past, even as recent as 15 to 20 years ago, networking outside one’s company (think of a large pharmaceutical company) didn’t seem necessary.  There were still plenty of people who had been at the same company for 15 – 30 years and were doing well with no thought to changing jobs.  Then mergers, acquisitions and restructuring shook the industry.  People who had been at a company for many years and who were well networked within that company suddenly were out of work and realized they had no business network outside of that company.  That is exactly what happened to me and I made sure to learn from that experience.

Lesson Learned #1: Look at your situation with a wider perspective

While in shock, worrying if I’d have to move my family and going on interviews, I learned a lesson from a chance encounter with a former colleague who was in the same boat that as I was in.  We were both flying to New Jersey for interviews and I told him I didn’t have a good feeling about the company I was interviewing with, it had no culture, and the employees didn’t seem friendly.  He suggested I look at it differently – “could you do the job for a year?” is what he asked me.  My reply was, “of course.”  He helped me realize that there was nothing wrong with taking the job, making the most of my severance, and continuing to look for a role that reflected the highest and best use of my skills. And who knows? Maybe the job would be better than I first thought. This bit of advice completely changed my attitude and I interviewed as if this was the perfect job for me.  I got the job.  It turned out to be an okay fit but I kept one job opportunity open and when they offered me the position 5 months later, I took it.

Lesson Learned #2: Use this job to get to your next one.

Your new may not be THE job that carries you through the rest of your career.  Some have called such an experience, a “mulligan” or a “do-over” job.  Through the experience you learn that you are employable and you’re more in the driver’s seat than you think.  Your goal is to find the company and culture that fits you, and where you want to invest your energy and talent.

Lesson Learned #3: Be prepared

I do not consciously recall saying to myself “I’ll never be in that situation again.”  However, a look at my behavior since then indicates that I took that to heart.  At every conference I attended, I introduced myself to the people in the booth on either side and across from me at the conference.  When I wasn’t in the booth, I walked the exhibit hall asking questions, meeting people and learning about their companies and services.  In the past 15 years, when corporate restructuring or a personal decision to be in the market for a new job, I had job offers and was working within a short period of time.

Lesson Learned #4

Networking must be an integral part of managing your career. 

Making and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships will help you get promoted, take on challenging assignments, solve and help others solve work problems and successfully address issues.

Having polled many audiences at DIA networking workshops over the past 10 years, the percentage of people who are in their current job due to networking is around 85%.  Very few people are in their current job in our industry by replying to online job postings.

Networking also helps your career by:

  • Being seen as proactive, active, resourceful, smart, and engaged
  • Bringing new experiences to your life
  • Building loyalty, trust, and dependability
  • Increasing your communication skills, influence, and patience

Now, how do you do this? 

In almost every state there is an organization to foster and support biotech and pharma companies.  NJ Bio, PA Bio, NC Biotech are examples.  Join them and find out when they have events.  LaunchBio (https://launchbio.org/) is an organization that hosts monthly events with speakers on relevant topics to the industry and are located in: Cambridge, MA; Durham, NC; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; San Diego, CA and San Francisco, CA. 

Now, how do you really do this?

  • When attending events, if there’s an opportunity to pre-register, do so.  This usually means you get a printed name tag.  Wear it. 
  • Put the name tag on the right side of your chest.  This makes it visible to who you meet as you shake hands.
  • Dress sharp and professional.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile, be positive and maintain a pleasant demeanor.
  • Be Personable – remember and use people’s names.
  • Be helpful – look for ways to offer information, to a favor, or make an introduction.
  • Be someone others WANT to connect to.
  • Ask “what are you working on?” instead of “what do you do?”
  • Be interested – ask others for their business cards (and have yours ready for them).
  • Follow up – thoughtfully and invite to connect on LinkedIn.
  • Put down your phone.

A section from Heather Hollick’s book carries this noteworthy message: Your network…stays with you from job to job and career to career.  It is entirely your creation and no one can take it away from you… build a network that becomes your tribe – the people to whom you are loyal and who, you trust, are loyal to you.

Get Involved Through Mentoring

Sharing with you a mentorship program I’ve gotten involved with at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is a collaborative designed to connect UNCW with the field of clinical research.  FuseCR is providing  local clinical research talent with powerful career and industry enhancing services.  One such program is MentorCR which pairs undergraduate students majoring in clinical research with experienced industry professionals in a formal, structured partnership.

My mentee is Keith Reid, https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithtreidjr/ .  Keith is a Junior in the Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Research program.  While going to UNCW, Keith works as an Advanced EMT at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  Like many others in the clinical research industry, Keith feels drawn to this as a career having lost both his grandfather and father to heart disease at the age of 50.

Keith and I will meet monthly or more often as needed.  Given my passion for connecting people, some of you can expect to hear from me requesting some of your time to talk with Keith on career path options and to share your experience and perspective.

The UNCW Clinical Research degree program is impressive in preparing students for entering into the clinical research industry.  Keith has already completed the following certifications:

  • Medidata Classic Rave EDC Essentials for clinical research coordinators | March 2019
  • TransCelerate Essential Documents | February 2019
  • TransCelerate IRB/IEC Responsibilities & Informed Consent | February 2019
  • TransCelerate Facilities & Equipment | November 2018
  • TransCelerate Investigator Oversight Informational Program | November 2018
  • TransCelerate Delegation & Training | October 2018
  • Medidata EDC Inspection Readiness for Clinical Sites | June 2018
  • CITI Biomedical Research Certification | 2018

For more information on UNCW FuseCR and the MentorCR program, read on or go to the links shown.

FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is a collaborative designed to ignite a new synergy between UNCW and the field of clinical research. By fusing resources and knowledge from academia and industry, FuseCR is energizing the local clinical research talent with powerful career and industry enhancing services.

https://uncw.edu/chhs/community/fusecr/index.html

  • Build Connections between Academia and Industry
  • Enhance Our Existing Workforce
  • Prepare Students for the Workplace
  • Educate the Next Generation of Talent

The general objectives of these programs and services are as follows:

FuseCR was formed by UNCW faculty from the School of Nursing’s Clinical Research Program and the Math and Statistics Department, in partnership with the NC Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office and the NC Coast Clinical Research Initiative.  This project was partially funded by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to strengthen the workforce for the local clinical research industry.

MentorCR for Industry Professionals: FuseCR Mentoring ProgramMentorCR pairs undergraduate students majoring in clinical research with experienced industry professionals in a formal, structured partnership. Engagement opportunities and leadership seminars are offered to further the student’s careers and the industry professional’s mentorship skills, while building professional relationships within the clinical research industry.

https://uncw.edu/chhs/community/fusecr/mentor.html

Mentors meet with their students 2-3 times per month and have opportunities to attend leadership seminars to further their careers while building networks within the industry. This program advances UNCW’s goal of workforce development in health-related fields for our regional community and provides crucial applied learning opportunities for our clinical research students.

Mentors have the opportunity to:

  • Support UNCW students by orienting them to the industry and helping them to build networks
  • Help the local economy by preparing better trained students
  • Experience the personal and professional benefits of being a mentor

FOCM Networking Event Meeting Minutes

May 9 found me in Durham, NC for a date with Durham Traffic Court the morning of the 10th. As you know, any excuse for meeting up with friends is kinda my life’s mission.

Notification was sent out to 63 people via Google calendar. 24 people opened the calendar invitation and responded with yes, no or maybe. I believe we had 13 attend. By the time we thought to take a picture, a few had already left. The location was Boxcar Bar & Arcade on Foster Street in Durham.

In attendance were: Don Alexander, Cynthia Edwards, David and Jaclyn Holland, Eric Nier, Gail Fowler, Kris Gustafson, Hillary Whittaker, Lauren Sherwood, Tim Sauls, Jeff Blum, Duncan Shaw and representing the PA Chapter, Vicky Martin.

L to R: Jeff Blum, Duncan Shaw
Me, Tim Sauls, Vicky Martin

FOCM Network Brainstorming Project

A friend and FOCM member in good standing is starting her consultancy company and is looking to find a good and proper name. As an annual dues paying member, she is entitled to this calling forth the idea generation of the FOCM Network.

The option to name it something like: lastname (use Smith as the example) consulting, of course is an option. I proposed we ask this network to do some thinking and see if we could come up with a name that will communicate what it is she can best contribute.

So here’s the background info:
This individual has over 25 years experience as a Clinical Research Scientist, Director of Clinical Operations, Executive Director and VP of Strategic Programs, Alliances and Governance. The past 12 years have been in the area of managing strategic accounts and partnership governance. This is a particularly strong area of expertise and focus.

Let’s use the normal brainstorming rules – no idea is a bad idea, don’t shoot down any other ideas – just want to generate name ideas. I’ll get it started:

CRO/Bio/Pharm Alliance Management, LLC
Alliance Governance, LLC
Clinical Research Partnership Governance, LLC
Smith Consulting, LLC
Clinical Research Alliance Governance, LLC
Clinical Research and Governance, LLC
Strategic Governance, LLC

Reply in comments with your quick, off the top of your head ideas. Many thanks.

New FOCM Member

On June 28, 2019 while attending the annual Drug Information Association (DIA) meeting in San Diego, FOCM was busy expanding its network. All new membership ceremonies are significant and strict adherence to protocol is (almost) always followed. This particular ceremony included a new addition to the protocol. FOCM is pleased to announce that Jodi Andrews, Founder and Co-CEO of Pro-Trials Research received her membership card.

This ceremony took place on the exhibit hall floor. What was added to the procedure for this ceremony was a shot of bourbon prior to the handshake, card presentation and photo. Later, a small pour of Fireball was distributed to the new member.

FOCM Member Displays Membership Pin

On June 11, 2019 in RTP, NC I attended Heather Hollick’s book release event. Heather wrote a book on networking, entitled Helpful: A Guide to Life, Careers and the Art of Networking. I was introduced to Heather by Tanyss Mason. It was Christine Sears who recommended Tanyss get in touch with me when she was undertaking a job search. Heather and I clicked immediately over a phone call on our mutual view of networking.

The book release event was held at the NC Biotech Center. I promoted this event to the FOCM network. Five members joined the approximately 40 others. I was pleased to see member Peter Benton in attendance. As I walked over to say hi, he pointed out that he was wearing his FOCM membership pin. Peter thought FOCM should have some kind of salute, the three finger salute isn’t going to be it, but it was a good attempt on short notice.

Peter Benton FOCM Pin

Biostatistics Job Openings

Array Biostatistics is hiring for multiple Biostatistician and Statistical Programming positions. Preferred location is Wilmington, NC or RTP, NC but are open to remote locations depending on the candidate’s experience.

For more information or to apply go to this link or reach out to me at chris@focmnetworking.com

Job Opening: Program Manager, Patient Affordability

FOCM is helping a member of the network fill a job opening. Please contact me if you want more details and share this with others who you know may be interested.

As a Program Manager, you will help eliminate barriers for patients, increase their access to medications, and help them receive lifesaving treatments while working in an environment that nurtures you.

The Program Manager (PM), as the primary business relationship manager, is responsible for program management, account management, financial management and business analysis.

The PM will be responsible for providing excellent customer service, exceptional program management, in-depth program knowledge and operational excellence for their assigned brands. As the primary point of contact between our valued customers and Company, the PM serves a crucial role in driving internal project teams to deliver Company’s full suite of products and services on schedule, on budget, and within scope.

The ideal candidate must be a self-starter, high performer and able to embrace change in order to adapt within a fast growing organization.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in business, accounting, marketing and/or healthcare, or pharmaceutical industry, graduate degree and/or additional certifications including PMP preferred
  • Three to four (3-4) years of project or program management experience

New FOCM Member

While attending SCOPE in mid-February in Orlando, I had the good fortune of welcoming Marie Perrone into FOCM. I had met Marie several years before via an introduction by long-time FOCM member, friend and former co-worker, Deb Nichols. It took so long for Marie to get her card due to some strange, but ultimately explainable issues in the background check that is run on all FOCM member candidates. The joy of receiving her card and the overwhelming relief to have resolved the items of her past is quite evident in the photo of this memorable event.

Marie Perrone receives her FOCM Membership card
Photo taken by Deb Nichols

FOCM Surprise Event

It was a typical Halloween Eve evening, weather-wise in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It should come as no shock to anyone that it was also October 30.  I’d rather hastily organized the 10/30 FOCM event just the day before as Brian Langin was coming to town.  Brian has the distinction of receiving the first FOCM card ever handed out.  So clearly, he was worthy of me getting people together.

Brian was first to arrive, followed by me and then surprise, surprise, surprise, Paula Brown Stafford joined us.  Paula and I have known each other for 22 years when I first started in the clinical research industry working at Quintiles together.  She has said to keep her on the FOCM event distribution lists as someday she just might surprise me and show up.

Brian, Me, Paula

In what can only be described as one of the happiest moments of her life, Paula received her FOCM card. 

 

 

 

 

It was a fun evening.  Others in attendance: Rob Sucharski, Duncan Shaw, Peter Payne,  Lauren Sherwood, Heather Malinowski*, Steve Young, Peter Weiman*.

*1st time attendees